The Nov. 11 moment of silence at the cenotaph in Oak Bay will likely have some members of the public on hand, while many more watch from home.
During its Oct. 12 meeting, council directed staff to make arrangements for a hybrid model of in-person and livestreamed event for the popular annual Remembrance Day service – with the caveat they can change approach at any time.
With no provincial health prohibitions for hosting outdoor events council was tasked with deciding the approach for the second Remembrance Day under COVID-19 pandemic conditions.
The annual ceremony at the war memorial in Uplands Park is an institution traditionally attended by thousands.
In its preparations, Oak Bay staff surveyed other municipalities and found many others have not yet made a decision or are going for a dual platform such as Sidney, where the Legion is planning a scaled-back event and livestreaming.
Council members looked to the recent inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events that many attended.
Coun. Hazel Braithwaite noted people were respectful, distanced and wore masks at the event she attended Sept. 30. They also seemed to appreciate the opportunity to gather in public and reflect as a group.
“It would be lovely for us to be able to do the same in our community with a few caveats,” she said.
Supporting the idea of the hybrid event, Coun. Ester Paterson pointed to the overwhelming turnout each year signifying its importance to residents.
Mayor Kevin Murdoch similarly referenced other outdoor events in the community this summer, such as concerts in the park and a car show on Oak Bay Avenue.
Coun. Andrew Appleton, the lone member opposed out of a self-proclaimed abundance of caution, leaned toward a livestreamed event only. “It brings me no joy to say that,” he added.
Braithwaite also suggested residents who can comfortably mark the event from home would leave space at the cenotaph for veterans and seniors who wish to attend in-person.
Fire Chief Darren Hughes noted the event will require infectious disease protocols as a workplace requirement.
Reiterating that council may change course at any time, council opted for the dual approach – with Appleton opposed – including in-person attendance.
Last year’s event streamed live on Nov. 11 starting at 10:55 a.m.